Office of Law Enforcement Coordination (OLEC)
April 16, 2010
The FBI works closely not only with other federal agencies everyday, but also with your local and state police departments.
Mr. Schiff: Hello. I’m Neal Schiff, and welcome to Inside the FBI, a weekly podcast about news, cases, and operations. The FBI works closely not only with other federal agencies everyday, but also with your local and state police departments.
Mr. Ruecker: “The local law enforcement community and the local law enforcement agencies are responsible for the safety and security of the communities and the towns of the United States. So, when people in the local communities see something that doesn’t look right, they should absolutely let their local police department know about that.”
Mr. Schiff: That’s Ronald Ruecker. He’s the assistant director of the FBI’s Office of Law Enforcement Coordination, known as OLEC. He says FBI Director Robert Mueller created OLEC not long after 9/11.
Mr. Ruecker: He made a decision and a commitment right then to establish the Office of Law Enforcement Coordination to help build a two-way bridge between his office and the state and local law enforcement community, and vice versa.”
Mr. Schiff: Well, there are thousands and thousands of local police departments. How do you do this?
Mr. Ruecker: “Well, the Office of Law Enforcement Coordination’s primary liaison with the state and local law enforcement community is through the national and international law enforcement organizations, like the International Association of Chiefs of Police, National Sheriff’s Association, Major City Chiefs, and so on. So, through this office, we intersect with those organizations; who in turn, are in touch with their membership.”
Mr. Schiff: How important is it for the FBI to have the OLEC office, and how important is it for our partners—other federal, state, and local police agencies and international partners?
Mr. Ruecker: “Well, it’s very important. I think we all know that it’s all about relationships in just about any business, and it certainly is in law enforcement. So, to the extent that the state and local law enforcement community feels that it has access and a voice into the office of the Director and can do that through their associations, it's very important. And similarly for the Director and the executives here in the FBI to have a conduit, a voice, a relationship, and partnerships with those law enforcement organization leadership, it’s really important.”
Mr. Schiff: Can you give us an example of how The Office of Law Enforcement Coordination here at the FBI creates and maintains these partnerships and how there’s coordination available for police departments with other agencies, including the FBI? There’s got to be a connection from one end to the other.
Mr. Ruecker: “Sure. Well, at the local level, the local police chiefs and their counterparts have a relationship with our special agents in charge (SACs) at all 56 of our field offices. At the national level, my office, The Office of Law Enforcement Coordination, intersects with those associations as I’ve mentioned, but also, there are a lot of programs in the FBI—capabilities and services that are just not that well known to our local counterparts. Something that I realized right away when I came in here even though I had 34 years of experience out in the state and local law enforcement community. So, to the extent that we can help facilitate and educate and inform the state and local law enforcement community about some of what the FBI has to offer, by way of partnership, that is also part of my office’s responsibility.”
Mr. Schiff: You also have to be in communication with many operational divisions at the FBI. For example, Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence, Criminal Investigative, Cyber.
Mr. Ruecker: “In fact, one of the things that we’ve been doing in that last six or seven months, in a response to a request from our partners, is putting out various bulletins. Not necessarily intelligence bulletins, but sometimes. Putting out information that is on fast-breaking events from around the world to let our partners know what’s going on, and that information very often emanates from the Counterterrorism Division here in the Bureau.”
Mr. Schiff: So you are getting updates as something develops, and often times, you have got to get that out to the state and locals because they need to know, too.
Mr. Ruecker: “That’s correct, and the Director is very, very committed to this line of communication and asks me regularly, ‘Did we get that out to our state and local partners?’ And of course, I need to be in a position to say that we did.”
Mr. Schiff: (Are there) other initiatives and training opportunities for the FBI and other agencies to improve communications and share information?
Mr. Ruecker: “Well, we have regular interactions that we try to arrange between the Director and the senior leadership with the leadership of these national organizations. We might have them appear at a conference, a national conference. We might have a smaller working group, where we bring a group of state and local law enforcement leaders in here for a round-table discussion with our executives, and talk about the issues and the topics that are important to our partners. We coordinate quite a bit of that interaction to make sure that we are getting real personal, direct, sometimes small group conversations between the Director and our law enforcement leaders.”
Mr. Schiff: Can you give us an example of what might be discussed? Can you take our listeners inside a meeting where there might be an important issue to be discussed?
Mr. Ruecker: “The law enforcement community, of course, is interested in the same kinds of things that the community is. Specifically, and of high interest, wanting to understand how the, for example, the Christmas Day attempted bombing of the Northwest flight landing in Detroit, how that all transpired. Our partners get, like everybody else gets, information from regular news sources, but they want to hear from our leaders and our executives on what that looks like from the inside of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. So that is a very regular topic. We've done a number of briefings for a number of people on a detailed level so that they can have a better understanding of how their law enforcement roles and responsibilities at the community level can compliment the efforts of the FBI.”
Mr. Schiff: What role can the public play to help law enforcement around the country?
Mr. Ruecker: “Absolutely just being aware of people’s surroundings. The local law enforcement community, the local law enforcement agencies, are responsible for the safety and the security of the communities and the towns of the United States. When people in the local communities see something that doesn’t look right, they should absolutely let their local police department know about that. Some of that information, if it appears to be terrorism-related, will make it’s way quickly, hopefully, to the FBI. But their first point of contact is their local police department, and we just encourage people to call, rather than not call, when they see something that just doesn’t look right to them.”
Mr. Schiff: What does the future hold for the FBI’s Office of Law Enforcement Coordination and its partners around the world?
Mr. Ruecker: “Well, as I said, it’s all about relationships, and we will continue to develop and cultivate these relationships the best way we can. That’s the commitment from the FBI. I know our counterparts at the state and local law enforcement community feel the same way. Things are changing very quickly in our world: technology, the borderless nature of crime all around the world. We have got to be well connected with each other, both in terms of a relationship so that we know each other in a time of need or crisis, but also so that we can stay abreast of, and hopefully in front of, the emerging crime trends that are affecting us all, all around the world.”
Mr. Schiff: I would think that you would encourage the local and state police chiefs and the leaders of various law enforcement agencies, sheriff's departments etc., that if they have questions or need something they should call the nearest FBI field office, contact the SAC, and for sure the SAC is going to represent you back to them?
Mr. Ruecker: “That’s absolutely right, their local first point of contact is the SAC, but as I said, we work together. If someone in a local jurisdiction has a relationship with their SAC, I probably won’t have a lot of contact with that person, unless that person also happens to serve on the national board of one of these major law enforcement organizations. Then, I will be intersecting with them here in the D.C. area or elsewhere, but absolutely, the primary and first point of contact is the special agent in charge in the local area.”
Mr. Schiff: As the experience that you had years ago as a police chief, you know what a lot of the issues are at the local level.
Mr. Ruecker: “Yes, when I was in Oregon with the Oregon State Police for 31 years, and then with a municipal agency in Sherwood (Oregon) for a couple of years after that, I certainly developed a perspective on state and local law enforcement issues, but I would never substitute that for the broader perspective around the country or the world, for that matter.
When I was with the International Association of Chiefs of Police, that broadened my own perspective on the issues. But again, things are constantly changing: crime trends, technology, politics, a lot of things are changing in the law enforcement community. And so, it just underscores the reason, the point that we just need to be constantly in touch with one another and developing these relationships so that we can continue to have an appreciation for one another’s perspective.”
Mr. Schiff: The FBI’s Office of Law Enforcement Coordination is available 24/7 when anything breaks. And all 56 FBI field offices are ready to take calls from local and state police agencies day and night. Much more about OLEC, and police agencies and the FBI working together, on the Internet at www.fbi.gov . That’s our show for this week. Thanks for listening. I’m Neal Schiff of the FBI’s Office of Public Affairs.
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